Prawns are a popular seafood delicacy enjoyed by people all over the world. Whether grilled, fried, or boiled, prawns are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes.
However, before they can be cooked and served, they need to be peeled. While some people prefer to peel their prawns by hand, commercial operations rely on machines to do the job quickly and efficiently.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how prawns are peeled commercially and the different methods used to achieve the perfect peel.
So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn all about the fascinating world of prawn peeling!
How Are Prawns Peeled Commercially?
Commercial prawn peeling is a process that involves removing the shell and vein from the prawn to make it ready for cooking. There are two main methods used in commercial prawn peeling: hand peeling and machine peeling.
Hand peeling involves manually removing the shell and vein from each prawn. This method is time-consuming and labor-intensive, but it is still used in some smaller operations where machines are not available or cost-effective.
Machine peeling, on the other hand, is a faster and more efficient method of peeling prawns. There are different types of machines available for commercial prawn peeling, including those that use rollers, clamps, and pins to remove the shell and vein.
One popular machine used for prawn peeling is the Jonsson machine. This machine automatically adjusts to each individual prawn, gently peeling and deveining it in the style selected. The prawns are placed in a plastic tray, and the rest of the process is automatic. The clamp grabs a prawn, cuts the shell, removes the vein, and then pins pull the prawn from the shell. The peeled prawns are deposited in one location, while the clean shell is discharged elsewhere.
Another popular machine used for prawn peeling is the Laitram Machinery Model A Automatic Shrimp Peeler. This machine was invented in Louisiana in 1949 and has revolutionized the shrimp processing industry. Each machine can peel approximately 1,000 pounds of shrimp an hour, ranging in size from 10 to 200 count per pound. The machine recovers 5% to 10% more meat from the head and tail sections of the shrimp than can be recovered in a hand-peeling operation.
American and Danish peeling machines are also available commercially that can handle deepwater prawns. These machines use successive pairs of rollers to behead the prawns, split the shell along the back, and pull the shell from the meat.
The Importance Of Proper Prawn Peeling
Proper prawn peeling is essential to ensure that the prawns are safe and enjoyable to eat. When cooking with prawns, it is important to remove the shell and vein to avoid any unpleasant textures or flavors. The shell can also protect the prawn meat from intense heat, but it is generally not recommended to leave it on for most dishes.
In commercial prawn peeling, it is important to use machines that can properly peel and devein each prawn. Hand peeling can be time-consuming and may not be as efficient as machine peeling. The use of machines like the Jonsson machine or the Laitram Machinery Model A Automatic Shrimp Peeler can help ensure that each prawn is properly peeled and deveined, resulting in a higher quality product.
Proper prawn peeling also involves removing the vein, which can contain sand particles and undigested food matter. While it is not harmful to eat prawns with the vein intact, it can contribute a gritty texture and muddiness to the dish. Deveining large prawns is especially important as their tract is typically more visible.
The Traditional Method Of Prawn Peeling
The traditional method of prawn peeling involves manually removing the shell and vein from each prawn. This method requires a skilled worker to use their hands and a small paring knife to peel the prawns. The worker starts by pulling off the head and legs of the prawn, and then removes the outer shell starting from the head end. The last segment of shell and the tail tip can be kept on for decorative purposes, depending on how the prawns will be presented.
After removing the shell, a small paring knife is used to make a slash along the outer edge of the prawn’s back, about 1/4 inch deep. The worker then removes and discards the vein that runs right under the surface of the back, using their fingers or the tip of their knife. If the vein cannot be seen, it is not necessary to remove it.
The traditional method of prawn peeling is time-consuming and labor-intensive, but it is still used in some smaller operations where machines are not available or cost-effective. This method allows for more control over the peeling process, ensuring that each prawn is peeled uniformly. However, it can also be messy and requires a skilled worker to perform accurately.
The Rise Of Commercial Prawn Peeling Machines
The rise of commercial prawn peeling machines can be largely attributed to the growth of the shrimp processing industry and its impact on local economies. The invention of the first shrimp peeler in 1949 by James Martial Lapeyre from Houma, Louisiana, revolutionized the industry by producing higher yields and reducing costs for shrimp peeling. The current Laitram Machinery Model A Automatic Shrimp Peeler is virtually identical to the first unit that was put into commercial use in 1949.
The use of prawn peeling machines has significantly increased the efficiency of the peeling process, allowing for a higher yield per barrel of prawns. The Jonsson machine, for example, automatically adjusts to each individual prawn and can peel any kind of prawn, including all warm water shrimp, wild or pond raised, fresh or thawed. This machine is also environmentally friendly as it does not waste water while peeling the prawns.
The Laitram Machinery Model A Automatic Shrimp Peeler and American and Danish peeling machines are other examples of commercial prawn peeling machines that have contributed to the rise of this industry. These machines have made it possible to peel large quantities of prawns in a shorter amount of time, reducing labor costs and allowing for a more profitable product.
The Different Types Of Prawn Peeling Machines
There are several types of prawn peeling machines available for commercial use. One such machine is the Jonsson machine, which uses clamps and pins to remove the shell and vein from each individual prawn. Another popular machine is the Laitram Machinery Model A Automatic Shrimp Peeler, which recovers more meat from the head and tail sections of the shrimp than can be recovered in a hand-peeling operation.
There are also American and Danish peeling machines available that can handle deepwater prawns. These machines use rollers to behead the prawns, split the shell along the back, and pull the shell from the meat. Martak has designed shrimp peelers specifically for cold water shrimp, including the “Mar-a” peeler which is reliable, fast, and accurate.
Each machine has its own unique features and benefits, such as increased yield per barrel of shrimp, reduced labor costs, and superior performance in peeling different styles of prawns. Some machines are more cost-effective for smaller operations with limited floor space, while others are better suited for larger restaurants or central kitchens.
Ultimately, the type of prawn peeling machine used will depend on individual customer requirements and local economic conditions. However, all of these machines offer a faster and more efficient method of peeling prawns compared to hand peeling, making them essential for commercial prawn processing operations.
The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Commercial Prawn Peeling
Commercial prawn peeling has both advantages and disadvantages. One of the biggest advantages of machine peeling is that it is faster and more efficient than hand peeling. This means that processors can peel more prawns in a shorter amount of time, which can help to increase productivity and reduce labor costs.
Another advantage of machine peeling is that it can result in less recontamination of cooked prawns. When prawns are peeled by hand, there is a higher risk of cross-contamination from the hands of workers. However, with machine peeling, the prawns are handled by the machine and not by human hands, reducing the risk of contamination.
Machine peeling can also result in higher yields and less waste. The machines are designed to recover more meat from the head and tail sections of the prawns than can be recovered in a hand-peeling operation. This means that processors can get more meat from each prawn, which can help to increase profits.
However, there are also some disadvantages to commercial prawn peeling. One of the biggest disadvantages is the cost of the machines. Commercial prawn peeling machines can be expensive to purchase and maintain, which can be a barrier for smaller operations or those with limited budgets.
Another disadvantage is that the machines may not be able to handle all sizes and species of prawns. Some machines are designed specifically for certain sizes or types of prawns, which means that processors may need to purchase multiple machines to handle different sizes or species.
Finally, there is a concern that machine peeling could result in a loss of jobs for hand peelers. While machine peeling can be more efficient and cost-effective, it does mean that fewer workers are needed to peel the same amount of prawns. This could have an impact on local economies and communities where hand-peeling has been a traditional source of employment.
The Future Of Prawn Peeling Technology
As the demand for sustainable and healthy seafood continues to grow, the prawn processing industry is seeking alternative methods to traditional long maturations that facilitate the peeling process. Emerging technologies such as high pressure, enzymes, ultrasound, and microwave are potential alternatives that offer benefits such as short process time, retained nutritional and sensorial characteristics, energy and water efficiency, and higher profits for the industry.
One of the most challenging and manually dexterous processes in prawn processing is de-shelling and de-veining. However, advancements in automation technology have led to the development of machines that can perform this task with high precision and reliability. The MTC design team has developed a methodology with a proven success rate of over 80% for de-veining warm-water prawns. This breakthrough in automation technology has the potential to bring relief to labor across the globe.
In the future, we can expect to see further advancements in prawn peeling technology that will make the process faster, more efficient, and more sustainable. With increasing demand, rising costs, and decreasing labor supply, innovation in prawn peeling technology will be critical for the industry’s continued growth and success.